Rodeo in Belton, Texas 1924-2011
The 4th of July in Belton is a tradition that means shared memories and a little something different to nearly everybody. Some may remember sitting in grandpa’s lap watching floats pass by, or eating a turkey leg by Nolan Creek or even sneaking a first kiss at the Rodeo. Whatever it may be is the reason that the Belton Chamber keeps the tradition alive.
To set the tone for the celebration is the Kick-Off BBQ in Yettie Polk Park. People from the community gather together and enjoy a delicious meal under the shade trees with live music playing in the background.
Of course it wouldn’t be a 4th of July without a parade. Always starting promptly at 10 a.m., the floats, bands, antique cars, decorated bicycles and other unique entries make their way down Main Street starting at 10th Ave., they then travel south to Central Ave., turn east and finish at Birdwell.
The first parade was held in 1850 with groups and organizations marching patriotically through downtown and became an annual event in 1919. From its humble beginnings, the parade now draws over 30,000 spectators, is broadcasted live on television, streamed instantly on the internet and has become a social media savvy event. Staying true to its roots, the parade continues to draw families back year after year.
The parade’s long-lasting heritage has not gone unnoticed by both local and national media. In 2008, USA Today named Belton’s 4th of July Parade as one of the nation’s “Top Ten Places to Fly Your Flag on the 4th.”
Following the end of the parade, attendees make their way down to Nolan Creek for a festival complete with arts & crafts activities, water slides and a variety of local favorite foods. Although it may be warm, there is always a vendor that sells fresh squeezed lemonade or homemade sweet tea to help you cool off.
Belton’s 4th of July is rich in history and memories and of course lots of fun. As if a parade, festival and BBQ aren’t enough for a celebration, the Bell County Expo Center hosts three nights of PRCA rodeo.
The rodeo became an official part of the Belton Chamber’s Independence Day Celebration in 1924. Before then, July 4th was a day when people from miles around met in one place, and the young blades who wanted to prove something to themselves or somebody else roped a few goats and saddle-broke a bronco or two. This rodeo arena was at the top of “Penelope Street Hill,” where Bell County now has Precinct One Road and Bridge Department barn.
In the early 1930s Belton rodeo joined the Cowboys Turtle Association, which is now the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA). During this decade, Belton also made history by hosting one of the first nighttime rodeos in the southwest. The event was such a hit that it lasted until 1:30 a.m.
After the end of World War II, the Belton Area Chamber of Commerce voted to build a new rodeo arena in Confederate Park. Once the huge arena, wooden bleachers, stock pens and chutes were built, Belton began to draw top professional cowboys.
The rodeo grew to the point that additional bleachers were stacked on with metal seats and the show only increased in size. From there it moved to the Bell County Expo Center, where today over 15,000 people fill the stands each night for rodeo entertainment.
Whether you are looking to create a new family tradition, bring back old memories or see what all the buzz is about, the Belton Area Chamber of Commerce 4th of July Celebration and PRCA has something to offer you.
A collaboration from Berneta Peeples & The Belton Chamber Staff